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KUCHING, March 18: Big plans are in the pipeline to transform Sarawak’s economy into a more modern and vibrant state, says Chief Minister Abang Johari Tun Openg.
The chief minister said this in a speech read out by Local Government and Housing Minister Dr Sim Kui Hian during a Chinese New Year dinner hosted by the Associated Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry Sarawak (ACCCIS) in Kuching on Friday night.
In announcing the government’s plans, the chief minister also assured the local business fraternity of the state’s willingness to listen to the private sector and do away with unnecessary bureaucratic processes and procedures that hinder the growth of the commercial sector.
He said it is the duty of the government to create an appropriate ecosystem for the business community to thrive progressively.
He also said it is the duty of the state government to protect the rights and interests of the people at large, especially consumers and workers.
“When considering changes to procedures and policies, the government has to weigh everything carefully so that no one is shortchanged or the people’s interest and welfare are jeopardised in any way.”
He also highlighted Sarawak’s economy needs to be transformed in tandem with the worldwide trend of gravitating towards digital technology.
He also said that economic policies are now founded upon the digitalisation of the public and private sectors.
“Our private sector has to move towards digitalisation in all their operations. For this to be a reality, the government will upgrade the Internet infrastructure and roll out ‘Big Data’ very soon to provide an ecosystem suitable for the growth of a digital economy.
“Although the cost to do this will be high, but the government is willing to invest in order to reap the benefits in the long run.”
Abang Johari also said that the transportation system has to be re-structured, and there are plans to build a Light Rail Transit (LRT) system to connect places across Greater Kuching.
According to him, the government aims to increase its revenue through initiatives such as the recent setting up of its home-grown petroleum company Petroleum Sarawak Berhad (Petros), the upcoming methanol plant and other chemical facilities in Bintulu, the 10 per cent stake in LNG Train 9, and up to 25 per cent share in liquefied natural gas (LNG) operations.
Abang Johari also pointed out that there is plenty of potential for cultivating the food production sector, adding this potential can be further developed in order to make Sarawak a net exporter of food in 10 to 20 years’ time.
“I have come up with the concept of an agriculture park where land can be leased to genuine entrepreneurs.”
He said the first agriculture park will be set up in Sarikei and the next one, probably in Samarahan.
“I know I can always count on our private sector, to enable our transformation programme to succeed.”
Meanwhile, Dr Sim in his remarks, called for unity among people in the business community while giving his assurance that the issues and problems raised by the ACCCIS would be brought up and forwarded to the appropriate quarters.
He said: “Unity is fundamental for a stronger Sarawak. Come the next general election, Sarawakians must be united and street-smart.
“Please, support the chief minister in the quest for greater autonomy for Sarawak, including in financial (sector), through various initiatives, which hopefully would increase the state revenue to RM6 billion a year,” he added. — DayakDaily